Are breathy-voiced stops (like [dʱ]) only breathy-voiced during the closure, with the vowel being completely modal-voiced, or do they make the vowel begin breathy-voiced, the way an aspirated stop causes the vowel to begin voiceless?

Put more visually:

-- = Voiceless
// = Modal-voiced
~~ = Breathy-voiced
| = Release

Voiced stops are: [////|////////]
Tenuis stops are: [----|////////]
Aspirated stops are: [----|---/////]
So, are breathy-voiced stops [~~~~|////////] or [~~~~|~~~/////]?

  • That's a great notation. Was it your idea? Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 12:05

2 Answers 2


It's more like [~~~~|~~~/////], or I would say it is rather [////|~~~/////]. They work very much like aspirated stops, only they are voiced, and the breathy voice that follows the release is very much like the voiceless puff of air after the release in aspirated stops, only this breathy voice is voiced, everything is voiced, both before the release, and after it.

  • Are you sure that you can change the phonation type so quickly [////|~~~/////]? I think, I've read that the notation [dʱ] is not completely accurate because the consonant is not modally voiced but murmured [d̤]. That may simply vary accross languages but one shouldn't assume that the [d] is modally voiced, just because the same character is used. The same applies to aspirated consonants, I think. The phonation isn't changed to aspiration when the release occurs. Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 12:15

It varies across languages. Voicing may cease at the left during the closure. In a number of Southern Bantu languages but not Shona (where they are ,ostly voiced), there is only a little voicing at the start of the closure.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.